What do we mean by inside out radiance?

Quite simply that the foundation of radiant skin is your inner health.

Genetics, age and skincare play a significant part but the absolute crux of it lies in how well we are within and how well our digestion and liver are functioning.

The irony is that as a beauty aficionado and a long-time health and beauty editor I’ve known this to be true for many years but I can’t say I was kind to my skin from the inside when I was younger.

The truth is the tone, texture, plumpness, elasticity and firmness of our complexion – particularly as we mature – relies on nutrition and getting all of the vitamins and minerals we need for healthy skin.

However, it’s not so much ‘we are what we eat’ but more ‘we are what we absorb’.

This is because so many of us have digestive issues these days so if you’re eating all the goodness God gave us but your gut’s not digesting it optimally it’s a bit of a moot point. A healthy gut and a radiant complexion go hand in hand and this is recognised by science with something called the gut-skin axis. If it’s out of kilter it can lead to inflammatory skin conditions such as itchiness, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and rosacea as well as dryness, breakouts and wrinkles.

If you’re skin conscious and would love to keep your complexion as youthful and luminous as it can be for as long as you can addressing issues such as hormone imbalance, digestive issues and constipation are important.

The epidermis or your visible skin begins life as cells in the dermis – or the inner/deeper layer – of skin. They’re then pushed through the various layers until they become the outer layer or epidermis. In a younger person, this process takes about 28 days but it slows down as we age.

Six Essentials For Healthy Skin


1. Good Fats

Our complexion has a love affair with the goodness of coconut, avocado, olives, hemp, flax seeds and walnuts in the form of both food and oil.

Good fat offerings like these supply omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to the cell membranes and help with the body’s absorption of vitamins and minerals. Many modern-day diets are high in omega-6 which tends to be inflammatory whereas omega-3 is anti-inflammatory. The trick is to get the balance right and the desired ratio is 1:2. However, the typical Western diet reads more like 1:10 which is why we always encourage eating more omega-3 rich foods – they’ve been shown to help build healthy skin cells. So that’s a win.

Where will you find omega-3’s?

Oily fish, walnuts, oysters, anchovies, pecans, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, soybeans, seaweed, edamame, kidney beans.

Tip: Supping on a tablespoon of oil a day reflects wonders in your skin and helps with any constipation issues.

2. Protein

Protein is the building block of every cell in our body. This includes our hormones – essential for Youology readers – as well as skin so it’s a key player in the journey to a luminous complexion. It’s even more crucial if you need to rebuild damaged or lacklustre skin.

Many people don’t eat enough protein and the body doesn’t hold large stores so if our intake is low it can’t rely on an internal storage system. In addition, protein is broken down into amino acids by the gut so if our digestive system isn’t functioning optimally it won’t be absorbed well.

How much protein do we need?

According to Harvard, the recommended amount is 0.8g per kilogram of your body weight. This works out to quite a low level of around 46 grams per day which is also recommended by the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation. However, the Ministry of Health for Australia and New Zealand recommend 64 grams per day for the average woman. Age, activity levels and muscle mass can all impact this.

Where will you find the best protein?

Salmon is a particularly skin-cherishing source of protein and it’s also packed full of omega-3’s and something called astaxthansin which has been linked to increased blood flow and anti-ageing. Other fish, poultry, lean meats and eggs are also good protein sources.

Often-times when we think of protein we think of dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt but these can be problematic once you head into perimenopause as they’re quite hard to digest. If you’re OK with dairy though it’s a great source.

Non-dairy forms of protein include tofu, tempeh, soy, lentils, quinoa, chickpeas, edamame and other beans, nutritional yeast and nut butters.

Related: Who Shouldn’t Eat Soy?

NB: The amino acids in protein may help the liver to detoxify excess estrogen. This can happen with hormone imbalance, estrogen dominance which is common during perimenopause or an accumulation of xenoestrogens from the chemicals and pesticides in cleaning and personal care products, plastics and the environment.

3. Fibre

Foods rich in fibre are your BFF because they’re wonderful anti-inflammatories, great for hormone balance and they help you poop. Nothing’s worse for your complexion than being clogged up or having a hard time pooping. Your aim? A soft, easy stool, not a dark, hard mass. (not sorry!) Part of great skin is all about your poop.

Where to get your fibre?

Eat loads of dark leafy greens like kale, rocket, spinach, broccoli, oats, peas, beans, lentils, whole grains, seeds and fruit.

Tip: Eat greens every day.

4. Vitamin A

Vitamin A (aka retinol and retinoids) is one of the stars of the topical skincare world with the caveat that they must be supplied in the right form and the right amounts. When these boxes are ticked the science is outstanding and has shown that vitamin A has the ability to reverse some of the signs of ageing. Therefore it makes sense that vitamin A is a skin booster from a nutritional point of view too.

Tip: Vitamin A is particularly good for cases of acne and eczema.

Where to get your vitamin A?

Liver, salmon, cheese, butter and eggs are good sources. Some vegetables contain a form of vitamin A known as provitamin A (beta-carotene, alpha-carotene) that needs to be converted into vitamin A. Vegans need to be aware that not everyone has the ability to do this due to genetics or a low functioning liver so they may need to look into supplementation.

Foods rich in provitamin A include sweet potato (kumara), squash, kale, carrots, spinach and red capsicum.

5. Zinc

No article about inside out radiance would be complete without mentioning zinc. It’s a mineral that’s anti-inflammatory and regulates oil. It’s also been found to be extremely beneficial to inflammatory conditions such as acne and to lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and regeneration. It helps with collagen synthesis and DNA repair thereby helping to repair skin damage and keeping the skin supple.

Where to find zinc?

Lean meat, chicken, fish and shellfish (oysters are famous for it), whole grains, nuts and seeds. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source.

A note on seeds

Adding seeds like flax, chia, pumpkin and hemp to your diet is both hormone loving and skin-cherishing. Seeds are rich in fibre and omega-3 fats. The fibre helps with your detoxification and elimination processes and omega-3 are helpful for the all-important fatty skin cell layer and are especially good if you’re experiencing adult acne or the itchy, dry, rough skin that can come with perimenopause.

3 things you should avoid for beautiful skin?

  1. Refined sugars – inflammatory
  2. Caffeine – dehydrating
  3. Alcohol – dehydrating

Hope that helps.

Related: Get A Good Gut